Aviation and climate change: a comparison of the overflights of the Belgian territory and the local aviation activities

Julien Matheys, Tim Festraets, Joeri Van Mierlo, Cathy Macharis, Nele Sergeant, Jean-Marc Timmermans

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference paper

Abstract

This paper is written in the context of the ABC Impacts project which aims at providing an analysis of issues related to the inclusion of air transport into European and international climate policy. The analysis of these policy options is of particular interest for Belgium given the intensity of air traffic in and over the Belgian territory. This paper provides an overview of the aviation related CO2 and H2O emissions from Belgian aviation as well as an estimation of these emissions due to the overflights of the Belgian airspace.
Besides the well-known CO2 emissions, which occur during the combustion of any fuel, aviation induces the formation of condensation trails (contrails) and possibly also the development of cirrus clouds. As water emissions are the main trigger to these phenomena, a calculation of the water emissions was performed next to the calculation of CO2 emissions. In order to be able to analyse these different contributions, it was required to evaluate the overflying traffic. The use of grouped inzones and outzones allowed to aggregate the overflights to enable the drawing of tendencies. The zone where an aircraft enters and exits the national airspace determines the length of its trip over the country. Based on average fuel consumption of type aircraft during the cruise phase, the total emissions of CO2 and H2O over the Belgian territory are calculated.
The comparison of the emissions due to aviation activities on the Belgian territory (with a landing or take-off on one of the Belgian airports) with the emissions due to the aircraft performing overflights through the Belgian airspace was performed. Although some uncertainties still exist regarding the exact effect of contrails and cirrus cloud formation on climate, this analysis shows that next to the CO2 emissions produced by aviation, the local climate in Belgium might be influenced significantly by air traffic transiting through its air space. Moreover, the analysis shows that overflights of the Belgian territory result in a comparable amount of CO2 and H2O emissions as compared to the local flight activities.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationFirst CEAS European Air and Space Conference. Berlin, Germany
Publication statusPublished - 2007
EventFinds and Results from the Swedish Cyprus Expedition: A Gender Perspective at the Medelhavsmuseet - Stockholm, Sweden
Duration: 21 Sep 200925 Sep 2009

Conference

ConferenceFinds and Results from the Swedish Cyprus Expedition: A Gender Perspective at the Medelhavsmuseet
CountrySweden
CityStockholm
Period21/09/0925/09/09

Keywords

  • aviation

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